Does the Honors College help you at HSU?


Henderson Television

Courtesy of HTV

Ethan Schmidt, Radio Program Manager

According to the Henderson State University website, the Honors College “is an integrated set of courses, seminars, colloquia, independent study projects and other events designed to add unique dimensions and depth to the capable student’s university experience.” As the Spring 2020 semester progresses past the midterm period, it seems worthwhile to examine how the program is faring, so that interested scholars won’t overlook a potentially helpful program for the next semester.

Freshman Sophie Burke gives a thumbs up to the Honors College. “Originally, I wasn’t going to be in Honors classes,” Burke says, “But then I decided last minute that I would go ahead, and if I didn’t like it, then I’d only take the class one semester and then not be in Honors for the rest of my college career. But, I’m taking a class this semester and I’m really enjoying it.”

Specifically, she loves the fair challenge of the classes. “It’s a little challenging,” Burke admits, “But it doesn’t feel like I’m doing an insane amount of work compared to my other classes.” She also praises the dedicated attitudes of other students. “I like that everyone does their part. I know we don’t do much [in groups], but I know I can always count on people to, if I miss the day, give me notes and stuff like that because we were all AP kids in high school. It’s not like a group project where you have a few certain people who do everything—We were those people.”

According to Dr. Thomson, director of the Honors College, this is the environment that the Honors College strives to create. “We built our program so that people wouldn’t have to sacrifice,” Thomson says. “We never wanted the Honors College to take an inordinate amount of time for people because we feel that Honors Students should float everyone’s boat. The thing most of them [Honors Students] have in common is an intellectual curiosity—a willingness to learn about a variety of topics.”

The distinguished professor of English begins every semester of Honors Colloquium by asking the class two questions. “I always ask them, ‘How many of you have done group work?’ Everybody has,” Thomson states. “Then I say, ‘Raise your hand…how many of you are the person[s] who did most of the work in your group?’ And all the hands have been [up] here.”

The demographic of the Honors College described here isn’t surprising, considering that the program requires a separate application and at least a composite score of 26 on the ACT or a 25 in the English and Reading sections.

When asked about any weaknesses in the program, Thomson says students are asking for more offerings in their liberal arts core, as there are currently no core Honors Science classes. He attributes today’s limited offerings to the ongoing budget crisis, as well as an unexpected departure of faculty members.  I think we’re kind of strapped right now,” Thomson says. “We’re not only strapped financially. A year or so ago, we lost Dr. Todd, who was our philosophy professor. He passed away.” When there is a limited amount of faculty members, Thomson says, “It’s really hard to think, ‘Oh, what I really wanted to do this semester is develop a new course!’”

Despite the current shortcomings of the program, Thomson is reminded of the Honors College’s ultimate purpose when he sees or listens to the news. “I heard this reporter say, ‘Well you don’t think that this viral outbreak is important?…You know, several people have already died in Washington state of it.” 

“And the woman she was interviewing said, ‘No, that’s just what Democrats say. I don’t believe anything Democrats say.’ 

“I thought, ‘You know what, you need to go to school, learn about how to evaluate information, and you need to not just be this closed off! You need to be able to think critically. Analyze, synthesize!’”